Sebastien Klotz - Head of Sponsorship & Merchandising, FFF Share PDF Print E-mail
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KLOTZSEBASTIEN1Sebastien Klotz joined the French Football Federation (FFF) in 2010, at a time when the national team was going under a highly controversial spell. Mutiny and division in the team at the South Africa World Cup resulted in an early exit and poor reputation amongst fans and partners.

Since then, the FFF has signed a lucrative deal with Nike, boosted its merchandising and kept the sponsors happy. Today, the demand is huge and the image is extremely positive.

Having previously worked for Nike, the Tour de France and Paris Saint-Germain, Klotz is now Head of Sponsoring & Merchandising of a well-oiled machine, overlooking a bright future. He tells iSportconnect about the differences between working for a club and for a national team, sponsorship activations and the Directors' Club Paris that will be held on September 18th, 2014, at the FFF's Headquarters in Paris.

Can you tell us about yourself, how you got into sponsorship and merchandising, and your role at the FFF?

I started my career in sports marketing at Paris Saint-Germain while studying at EM Business School, in Lyon. At Paris Saint-Germain, I was working in the licensing department, called PSG Merchandising. Thanks to this internship, I met many interesting people, particularly from Nike, and from the sports marketing industry in general. A couple of month later I landed in New York City and spent a year at Nike. I was in charge of football grassroots programs on the east coast, before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. This experience was extremely beneficial for me.

Back in Paris I was hired by ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), where I was in charge of the Tour de France partners. I had the chance to be given more and more missions for the Tour de France, but also international events and Paris Marathon. I arrived at the FFF on March 2010 to manage some of the sponsors. Four years later I am now in charge of the whole Sponsoring & Merchandising department. My mission is to develop the revenues thanks to our sponsors (we sign four year deals) but also thanks to new licenses that we sign territory by territory or globally. We have doubled our licensing revenues over the last two years and sponsoring revenues have increased by more than 10%.

Have you always been a football fan?

Yes, I've always been a football fan, I actually support three clubs in France: Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique Lyonnais and OGC Nice. But above all, I am a fan of our national teams: football of course, but also handball, the Davis Cup and during the Olympics. I used to play football twice a week for many years but unfortunately I have less time to play now.

You have worked for both a club and a nation. What are the main differences, regarding sponsorship and merchandising, if any?

When you work for a club, you are under the spotlight every single week, whereas for a nation, you only get five meetings a year, with two games to be played each time. The benefits for our sponsors are huge when you take into account that our games are broadcasted in 190 territories with an average of eight million TV viewers for each game, in France only. A good mix between clubs and FFF is the French Cup competition, with a whole year dedicated to a great story telling for our sponsors. It is interesting to note that marketing rights for the national cups are owned by the FFF.

You have spent over three years working as the Head of Sponsorship at the Tour de France, what expertise did you bring form the world of cycling to the FFF?

The Tour de France was an incredible experience. This event is certainly the most difficult event to organise. I was not in charge of merchandising but I had the chance to spend a couple of days selling merchandise products. Tour de France had a lot of sponsors and each of them needed to have their own territory of communication. It is now easier at the FFF as our strategy, in 2010 was to reduce the number of sponsors in order to give each one of them a more important communication space and more visibility. The fewer sponsors you have, the more value it creates to your product. I really think that it was the right strategy to increase our revenues.

You started at the FFF in March 2010, how do you manage hard times like the EDF went through after 2010, from a sponsorship and merchandising perspective?

From a sponsorship perspective, as everyone knows, we had to adapt to what happened in South Africa during the World Cup. Some of our sponsors were given the opportunity to add in their contract a bonus fee based on the image of our national team. Four years ago we had to propose something to keep our partners with us. We managed to keep them all at that time, and four years later it appears we all took the right decision. For the next sponsorship cycle (2014-2018) we stopped it and all our partners understood.

From a merchandising point of view, it was easier to calculate because the number of new licenses dropped and we noted a decrease in our products sale figures. The fact that we qualified for the World Cup 2014 changed everything. We now have huge demand and the image of our national team is extremely positive. We can see it every day in our FFF store and on our online store.

Recently, France moved from Adidas to Nike as kit manufacturer. Can you tell us about the transition? What part did you play in the takeover?

The contract was signed by Noel Le Graet a long time before I arrived at the FFF but I was at the FFF during the switch. It was a revolution for us. Thanks to Nike, we have now developed a lot more skills and a whole new range of products. Our national jerseys are often described as the most beautiful ones. We also work very hard with them on merchandising and licensing. We created FFM (French Football Merchandising) to market and develop our strategy together. The results are really high, in terms of benefits but also in terms of image.

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